SUEZ CRISIS: Yemen rebels threaten to choke major shipping lane using BOMB BOATS
Houthi fighters, backed by Iran, reportedly piloted the bomb-laden vessel from the safety of a nearby ship and set it on course to smash into a tanker in a stretch of ocean which effectively controls access to the Suez Canal.
The ship was destroyed by Gulf coalition forces before it managed to reach its target, but the rebels have vowed to continue their attempts until Saudi-led troops end their advance towards the Houthi stronghold of Hodeidah.
And the coalition also warned rebels have the capability to lay mines, both on and underneath the water, as well as having trained divers to attach mines to ships.
The port city of Hodeidah is close to the 12-mile-wide Bab al-Mandeb Strait, which acts as a natural chokepoint at the south of the Red Sea.
An average of 60 commercial and passenger vessels pass through the waters every day on their way to or from the Suez Canal at the northern end of the Red Sea.
Some four million barrels of oil are also transported along the route daily, meaning a successful attack would severely disrupt global trade.
Colonel Turki al-Maliki, a spokesman for the Gulf alliance, confirmed coalition forces had managed to destroy the bomb-laden boat before it hit the tanker.
He said: “The Houthis are threatening international trade and marine navigation in the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandeb Strait. There is an imminent threat every day.
“Their attempt to attack the oil tanker is very serious, it is a hostile act.
“There is no doubt that Hodeida port is now a base from where they are launching terrorist attacks.”
The coastal city has been under Shia Houthi control since the movement seized power in 2015, which sparked the civil war in Yemen.
Saudi and its allies in the Gulf have been bombing Yemen since the conflict began in an effort to reinstate President Hadi, who was ousted at the start of the war.
Nearly eight million Yemenis are on the brink of famine due to the ongoing conflict.
And a partial blockade of Hodeidah has prevented supply ships from entering the port.
Sales al-Samadm a senior member of the Houthi’s political council, said: “If the aggressors keep pushing towards Hodeidah, and if the political solution hits a wall, there are some strategic choices that will be taken as a no return point, including blocking the international navigation in the Red Sea.”
“Their ships pass by our waters while our people starve.”